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Important information about proteins

Proteins are complex molecules made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of the body. They play an essential role in numerous bodily functions, including the construction and repair of tissues, the production of enzymes and hormones, maintaining a healthy immune system, and the transport of nutrients throughout the body.

Table of Contents:

What Are Proteins

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Proteins (also known as amino acids) are a collective term for the amino acids that we need to keep our bodies healthy. These amino acids are essential for building our cells and for controlling various internal processes. There are a total of 22 different amino acids, but there are many different types of proteins, resulting in thousands of different combinations of amino acids, all grouped under the term proteins (or proteins).

Amino Acids

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Amino acids can be thought of as the building blocks of proteins. To draw a comparison, a brick wall is made up of bricks, and in this case, the individual bricks are the building blocks of the brick wall.

So, the individual amino acids form the basis for everything we call proteins. All 22 amino acids are essential, but not all of them need to come from our diet. Your body can produce some amino acids on its own. That’s why there is often a distinction made between essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids.

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However, there are some exceptions on the list of non-essential amino acids. This is because in certain diseases and injuries, the body may not be able to produce sufficient amounts of these amino acids, even though the body needs them for healing. In such cases, we refer to them as semi-essential amino acids.

These semi-essential amino acids include:

  • Arginine
  • Asparagine
  • Glutamine
  • Glycine
  • Serine
  • Proline

If there is a need for additional amounts of the above-mentioned amino acids, they can be taken in supplement form.

The function of proteins

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All tissues in our body are made up of proteins. This includes muscles, bones, organs, and the nervous system, among others. Proteins are also found in our blood.

Proteins are essential for all existing cells in our body. Our body continuously renews our cells, breaking down old proteins to replace them with new ones. This process helps repair damaged cells and prevents dysfunctional cells from performing their functions properly.

Our body continually loses small amounts of protein. This protein is used to create new cells or repair old ones. Protein loss also occurs through shedding hair, flaking nails, skin flakes, and even through sweat and urine. The breakdown of proteins primarily occurs in the cells of the liver and intestines, as well as in muscle tissue. In total, about 200 to 300 grams of the protein present in our bodies is replaced daily.

In conditions such as severe burns, taking extra proteins is essential because they are the building blocks for your cells to heal the burned body parts.

Regulatory processes that require protein:

Digestion: Enzymes play a crucial role in digestion by breaking down nutrients. Enzymes are made up of proteins.

Our immune system: Antibodies are proteins that play a crucial role in our immune system.

Transporting substances in the blood: Proteins, such as hemoglobin, are involved in transporting substances in the blood, like oxygen through hemoglobin to the lungs.

Hormone regulation: Many hormones in our body are proteins, including insulin.

Transmitting signals: Some cells contain receptor proteins that allow certain substances to bind to them. This role of proteins is vital for transmitting signals in the body.

Production of neurotransmitters: Several amino acids are necessary for the production of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are involved in our nervous system and play a role in transmitting nerve signals.

Proteins from our diet

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Proteins from our diet are broken down into individual amino acids in our body, altering the structure of the proteins.

The small intestine: The amino acids released in the small intestine (with the help of enzymes) are absorbed and transported via the bloodstream to the liver and other tissues. There, they are used for the synthesis of body proteins.

The large intestine: Proteins that are not digested in the small intestine are further broken down in the large intestine. During this process in the large intestine, hydrogen sulfide gas can be produced, causing the well-known smell of rotten eggs when passing gas.

Excess Proteins

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All proteins converted in the small intestine are used for the synthesis of new body protein. However, your body will only do this in the amount it needs. Any excess proteins are converted into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis. The proteins converted into sugar will be used as energy or stored as body fat.

Since excess protein can be converted into sugar, it can lead to getting out of ketosis. To make this happen, you would need to consume a significant amount of extra proteins, but it is possible.

Proteins and Exercise

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When you engage in intense exercise, small “tears” often occur in the muscles. These tears are filled with proteins, which increase your muscle volume. To do this, your body needs more proteins, so it’s important to replenish them adequately. However, it’s pointless to bulk up on proteins to the maximum. Anything your body doesn’t need will ultimately be converted into sugars.

Protein shakes are an easy way to get extra proteins, but it’s not necessarily the most ideal (or convenient) way to consume extra proteins. With protein shakes, you’re likely to get a surge of extra proteins in a short period, probably much more than your body needs at that moment. So, it’s better to try to get extra proteins naturally through food (which is richer in proteins).

Foods rich in proteins include:

Nuts and seeds
Dairy (cheese, yogurt, quark, etc.)

Calculate How Much Protein You Need

If you do a lot of sports, you need relatively more protein than when you don’t. In a ketogenic lifestyle, the ratios of your macros (protein/fat/carbohydrates) are already very different from a “normal” diet. Therefore, all standard recommendations about the amount of extra protein you should take are not advisable to follow.
In the article on How to calculate your macros you can learn how to calculate everything. On the days when you engage in intensive exercise, you can input your training activity into the Fitatu app. The app will then calculate how many extra proteins you need for that day. Ideal, right?!


Simpson RW, McDonald J, Wahlqvist ML, Atley L, Outch K. Macronutrients have different metabolic effects in nondiabetics and diabetics. Am J Clin Nutr. 1985 Sep;42(3):449-53. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/42.3.449. PMID: 3898804.

Tiekou Lorinczova, H.; Deb, S.; Begum, G.; Renshaw, D.; Zariwala, M.G. Comparative Assessment of the Acute Effects of Whey, Rice and Potato Protein Isolate Intake on Markers of Glycaemic Regulation and Appetite in Healthy Males Using a Randomised Study Design. Nutrients 2021, 13, 2157.

Morton RW, McGlory C, Phillips SM. Nutritional interventions to augment resistance training-induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Front Physiol. 2015 Sep 3;6:245. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2015.00245. PMID: 26388782; PMCID: PMC4558471.

Schoenfeld, B.J., Aragon, A.A. How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 15, 10 (2018).


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